Israel 9/14/12
Mr. Chaput

Social: Between the years 2000 and 500 BCE the Israelites changed from a collection of loosely connected nomadic groups who survived by herding and operating caravans to a settled agricultural community. Over time the Israelites developed complex political and social institutions and carved out a niche in the commercial and diplomatic fabric of the Middle East. The social structure of Israel was based on large family groups led by the eldest male. Sons are extremely important, so much so in fact that if a married couple is without a son the husband may father a child with the female attendant of his wife. Women were respected in Israelite society but could not inherit property or initiate divorce. Adultery was punishable by death. Peasant women labored in the fields and cared for the household and children. “Wise women” wrote sacred texts and there is at least one example of women fighting, “Deborah the Judge” who led troops in battle.

Cultural: The most significant cultural achievement is the transformation of a cult centered on a desert God into a monotheistic religion based on one omniscient God. This transformation laid the foundation for the rise and spread of three significant monotheist faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Using a script borrowed from the Phoenicians in the tenth century the Israelites recorded their traditions in a collection of texts known as the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

H & E: The relationship between the Israelites and the environment changed over time from a mainly pastoral people to a settled agricultural and at least partly urban community. The ancient Israelites used their animals for meat, milk, cloth and cheese and as they gradually transitioned to settled agriculture (circa 1800 BCE) the were able to use the surplus to support and increasingly complex social and political systems.

Economical: The Israelite economy centered on agriculture, animal husbandry, trade and conflict. Israel is centrally located between Egypt, Anatolia, Egypt, Arabia and Mesopotamia making it an important are for trade (caravans) and exchange.

Political: Around 1200 BCE a new people, the Philistines arrived on the coastal plains of Israel and it was through conflict with these people that the Israelite Monarchy developed and last until Jerusalem was conquered by the Neo-Babylonians in 587 BCE. Shortly after Jerusalem fell to the Romans and the Israelites would not regain their political autonomy until after WWI.

external image israel-golan.jpg accessed on 9/14/12

Image of present day Israel. Notice the striking difference between the country side and the entrepot of Jerusalem as seen below.

external image israel1.jpg accessed on 9/14/12

Image of present day Israel. Notice the striking difference between the country side and the entrepot of Jerusalem.

Map of Israel during the time of David

Notice the close proximity of the Israelites to the trading cities of the sea going Phonecians.